Spires, arches and hoodoos -- oh my! We aren't in Kansas anymore. Bryce Canyon National Park has all of these and more at an elevation reaching higher than 9000 feet above sea level.
The climate is ideal for forming hoodoos -- tall, skinny rock formations that are also called tent rocks or earth pyramids. There are freezing temperatures more than 200 days a year. The relentless cycle of freezing and thawing widens cracks in the cliffs. Eventually pinnacles are formed and subject to even more weathering.
Hoodoo: A pinnacle or odd-shaped rock left standing by the forces of erosion. From voodoo: something which causes bad luck.
Bryce Canyon has shuttle buses that you can take to various lookouts. You can hike to the next jumping off point or wait for the next shuttle bus. They run every 12 minutes during the day.
The Park also offers escorted bus tours (free with admission) that are 3.5 hours long that run once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I took the morning trip from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and highly recommend it. You have to sign up ahead of time. On the bus trip, we saw deer, antelope and prairie dogs. The guide said they often see bears, too.
The park also has many trails to hike that are spectacular. I took the combination Navaho Loop and Queens Garden Loop. This was about a four mile hike and I figured I'd knock it out in maybe an hour and one-half. Um, not so fast. The trails go down (about 800 feet) then back up and are at altitude - think thin air. It was a great hike, but not as easy as I expected. See here and here for descriptions.
The shuttle bus picked up the hard-core hikers. We met a group that spent three days hiking (about 20 miles, I think). You could also take horse or mule trips down into the canyon.
I spent most of two days at the park and wish I'd planned for a third. There was lots to do and majestic scenery.
Above: Hikers take a close-up look at some hoodoos.
Above: At the end of the Navaho Loop Trail, the path has switch-backs. If you click to enlarge, you can see hikers. This will give you perspective as to how large the rocks are.
Above: Hikers go through a tunnel on the Navajo Loop Trail.
Above was taken at Red Canyon, just outside Bryce Canyon National Park.
Images by MJOJ. Nos, 2 and 3 with my P&S.